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Am J Surg Pathol. 2015 Apr;39(4):462-71. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000000323.

T-cell receptor (TCR) phenotype of nodal Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive cytotoxic T-cell lymphoma (CTL): a clinicopathologic study of 39 cases.

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*Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Nagoya University Hospital ∥Department of Hematology and Cell Therapy, Aichi Cancer Center, Nagoya †Department of Molecular Diagnosis, Nagano Prefectural Suzaka Hospital, Suzaka ‡Department of Pathology, Okayama University, Okayama §Department of Pathology, Aichi Medical University Hospital, Nagakute, Japan.


Among Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive cytotoxic T/NK-cell lymphoma, there are only a few reports on the clinicopathologic features of patients with primary nodal presentation (nodal EBV cytotoxic T-cell lymphoma [CTL]). Here, we compared the clinicopathologic profiles of 39 patients with nodal EBV CTL with those of 27 cases of "extranasal" NK/T-cell lymphoma of nasal type (ENKTL), especially addressing their T-cell receptor (TCR) phenotype. Histologically, 22 of 39 nodal EBV CTL cases (56%) were unique in having centroblastoid appearance, which was contrasted with the lower incidence of this feature in ENKTL (15%, P=0.001). In contrast, pleomorphic appearance was more frequently seen in ENKTL than in nodal EBV CTL (67% vs. 23%, P=0.001). Thirty-three of 39 nodal EBV CTL cases (85%) were of T-cell lineage on the basis of TCR expression and/or TCRγ gene rearrangement; in detail, 18 cases (46%) were TCRβ positive (αβ T), 5 (13%) were TCRγ and/or δ positive (γδ T), and 10 (26%) were TCR-silent type with clonal TCRγ gene rearrangement but no expression of TCRβ, γ, or δ. These results were clearly contrasted by a lower incidence of T-cell lineage in ENKTL (7 cases, 26%, P<0.001). Notably, the survival time of the 5 nodal lymphoma patients with γδ T-cell phenotype was within 3 months, which was inferior to those of αβ T and TCR-silent types (P=0.003), and 3 of those with available clinical information were all found to be associated with autoimmune diseases. These data suggest that nodal EBV CTL is distinct from ENKTL.

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